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Archive for Colombia

Newsline: Colombia rejects Venezuelan proposal to resume diplomatic relations

Colombia rejected a proposal to resume diplomatic relations with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government on Thursday, amid a dispute over a fugitive former Colombian congresswoman who was captured in Venezuela. Maduro abruptly cut diplomatic relations with neighboring Colombia last February after Colombian President Ivan Duque helped Venezuelan opposition politicians deliver humanitarian aid to their crisis-stricken country. Colombia, like the majority of Western democracies, recognizes Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate president. “We see little possibility to provide consular and other services in Venezuela, plainly and simply because of the constant aggressions doled out by the dictatorship against many countries that have rejected it,” Duque told journalists Thursday. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-colombia-venezuela/colombia-rejects-venezuelan-proposal-to-resume-diplomatic-relations-idUSKBN1ZT30R) Maduro proposed the resumption of consular relations between the countries on Wednesday, as Colombia seeks the extradition of former Colombian congresswoman Aida Merlano. Merlano was detained in January in Venezuela’s Zulia state, which borders Colombia, four months after she escaped custody in Venezuela.

Newsline: US diplomatic staffer in Colombia is missing and presumed dead

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that an American staffer from the US Mission in Colombia is missing and presumed dead after a boating accident over the weekend. The top US diplomat, speaking alongside the Colombian president in Bogota, said the boating accident occurred on Saturday and that other government personnel had been involved. Some were rescued with “modest injuries” and one was airlifted to the US for treatment, Pompeo said. The missing worker’s next of kin had been notified, Pompeo said, but they were withholding the individual’s name for privacy considerations. A spokesperson for the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs told CNN that the employee was “on temporary assignment to the US Embassy in Bogota” and was “engaging in tourist activities in Cartagena” when the boating accident occurred. (https://edition.cnn.com/2020/01/20/politics/us-mission-colombia-worker-dead-boating-accident/index.html) Colombian President Ivan Duque expressed his condolences over the accident. He said Navy, Coast Guard and local services were participating in search efforts for the body of the missing worker. According to a press release from the Colombian navy, the accident occurred near the Rosario Islands, off the coast of Cartagena. 11 of the 12 passengers in the boat were rescued, the release said.

Newsline: Colombia Ambassador Criticizes State Department in Recording

Colombia’s ambassador in Washington was embarrassed by publication of a recording in which he trashes the State Department as a feckless institution subjugated to the whims of the White House. The Colombian newspaper Publimetro posted the recording of a 24-minute conversation between Ambassador Francisco Santos and Colombia’s foreign minister-designate, Claudia Blum. The paper said the private conversation took place last week at a Washington cafe and was recorded by a third person it did not identify. In the conversation, Santos complains that the State Department has lost the muscle as a driver of U.S. policy in Latin America that it had a decade ago when he was Colombia’s vice president. He says policy decisions are now primarily made by the National Security Council’s director for the Western Hemisphere, Mauricio Claver-Carone. “I used to come to the U.S. because I was responsible for human rights … So you would arrive to the State Department and you knew how things worked,” said Santos, who then recounts a conversation with an Asian ambassador who seemed similarly concerned. (https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2019/11/20/world/americas/ap-lt-colombia-us.html) “The State Department, which used to be really important, is destroyed. It’s non-existent, non-existent,” Santos continues. Colombia has long been the United States’ staunchest ally in Latin America and Santos’ reflections about whom he refers to as the “gringos” are bound to irritate some of the country’s backers in Washington. There was no immediate comment from the State Department. The office of Colombian President Ivan Duque said Santos had been summoned back to Bogota for a meeting with the president. The ambassador, a former journalist whose kidnapping decades ago at the hands of drug boss Pablo Escobar was the subject of a book by Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, apologized for his comments. He said the conversation was illegally recorded but offered no details to back the claim.

Newsline: Ireland opens its first Embassy in Colombia

Colombia took the first step when it opened its first Embassy in Dublin last year, and in January, Ireland reciprocated, with its first-ever diplomatic representation in the country. Ireland’s presence in Colombia dates to back to Simón Bolívar and the Independence campaign when 1,000 Irish volunteers left Europe in the 19th century under the command of the Cock-born General Daniel Florence O’Leary (1801- 1854). “We have a very long history with Colombia,” says Ambassador Milton, recalling one of Bolívar’s closest confidants and well-known figure in Colombian history. (https://thecitypaperbogota.com/news/republic-of-ireland-opens-its-first-embassy-in-colombia/21887) The opening of an Irish Embassy in Bogotá was, therefore, the Ambassador explains, “in the offing for some time” and a decision that comes as Ireland expands its missions’ network across Latin America.

Newsline: Venezuelan President Breaks Ties With Colombia Amidst Deadly Aid Crisis

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced on Feb. 23 that his government had broken diplomatic ties with Colombia after the government there aided opposition activists in seeking to bring the aid into Venezuela. “Patience is exhausted, I can’t bear it anymore, we can’t keep putting up with Colombian territory being used for attacks against Venezuela,” Maduro said in a speech. “For that reason, I have decided to break all political and diplomatic relations with Colombia’s fascist government.” Colombian diplomats were given 24 hours to leave Venezuela. Foreign minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said Colombia would blame Venezuela’s president if anything happened to its diplomats, Reuters reported. “Colombia holds the usurper Maduro responsible for any aggression or violation of the rights of Colombian officials in Venezuela,” said the foreign minister (https://www.npr.org/2019/02/23/697289540/venezuelan-military-fires-on-protesters-killing-2-in-confrontation-over-aid). At least four people were killed and hundreds injured as opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro clashed with Venezuelan security forces over the weekend. Anti-Maduro activists were largely unsuccessful in their efforts to bring shipments of food and medicine into the country Saturday, according to reports from the borders with Colombia and Brazil.

Newsline: Colombian ambassador complains about Sun’s ‘GO KANE!’ front page

Colombia’s ambassador to the UK has complained after the Sun published a front page that referenced the country’s links to the cocaine trade in the run-up to Tuesday’s World Cup clash with England. The headline reads: “As 3 Lions face nation that gave world Shakira, great coffee and er, other stuff, we say … GO KANE!” next to a picture of England striker Harry Kane. “It’s rather sad that they use such a festive and friendly environment as the World Cup to target a country and continue to stigmatise it with a completely unrelated issue,” said the ambassador, Néstor Osorio Londoño, who is hosting a party for Colombian fans in a traditional English pub. “Respect, fair play and joy for the game is all that matters tonight. We’ll be cheering for Colombia and hoping we can all enjoy a great match.”

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/jul/03/the-sun-go-kane-colombian-ambassador-complains-world-cup-england

Newsline: New Colombian president open to moving embassy to Jerusalem

The newly elected Colombian president said recently he would be open to moving the country’s embassy to Jerusalem, potentially becoming the fourth country, and third from Latin America, to do so. Conservative Ivan Duque won just over 54 percent of the vote, beating out leftist rival Gustavo Petro’s, who took 41.7% with nearly all the votes counted, electoral authority figures showed. On May 16, Duque said at a campaign event that if elected he would not rule out “the possibility of placing the diplomatic seat in Jerusalem.”

https://www.timesofisrael.com/new-colombian-president-open-to-moving-embassy-to-jerusalem/

Newsline: Colombia’s general allegedly linked to war crimes became ambassador to Seoul

South Korean President Moon Jae-in received the credentials of six new foreign ambassadors. Among them was the new Colombian ambassador to South Korea, Juan Pablo Rodríguez Barragán. Rodríguez isn’t a career diplomat, but he has a lengthy resume. He had 41 years of active military service, eventually becoming commander of the Colombian Military Forces until he resigned in 2017. But what really makes him stand out is another detail: He faces allegations of participating in war crimes and supporting cyberespionage against human-rights activists. Rodríguez stepped down as commander of the Colombian Military Forces in 2017, just three years after he had taken the position. The move was unexpected: According to a report from McClatchy, it came shortly after the U.S. government began reviewing his visa rights. Neither the South Korean nor Colombian embassies in Washington responded to inquiries about Rodríguez from The Washington Post.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/04/26/he-was-linked-to-war-crimes-now-hes-colombias-ambassador-in-seoul/?utm_term=.5bf5a7f251bd

Newsline: Colombian embassy condemns Singapore bar named after drug lord

A bar named after Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar found itself in a tricky situation after the Embassy of Colombia in Singapore and the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) took issue with its theme. The embassy confirmed that it had sent an official note to Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to denounce the three-week-old nightspot named Escobar in China Square Central. The venue features themes related to the late Colombian, who led the Medellin drug cartel known for its cocaine trade. A CNB spokesperson said that the manner in which Pablo Escobar’s name and image are being used to promote the bar is highly objectionable and runs counter to Singapore’s zero-tolerance approach towards drugs and to the Government’s efforts in preventive drug education. While the embassy declined to disclose its official note to the bar, a report on Yahoo Singapore’s site quoted the embassy saying in the note that the bar would confuse customers and justify criminal actions, and undermine the work that the successive governments have been endeavouring. The embassy also took issue with the way the bar had modelled itself after the Netflix drama series Narcos, and asked the Singapore Government to give due attention to its concern and take necessary actions to reverse this harmful image.

http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2132402/colombian-embassy-condemns-singapore-bar-named-after-drug

Newsline: Desperate Cubans seek US visas in Colombia after Havana embassy cutbacks

The once-quiet villa that houses the Colombian embassy in the plush Miramar suburb of Havana is a hub of activity as Cubans line up outside from dawn until dusk, sheltering from the sun and rain under umbrellas and trees. Colombian consul Luis Fernando Cordoba said his team was working much longer hours than usual and getting back-up to cope with higher demand for visas. The United States said it would process Cuban family reunification requests at its Bogota embassy. Bogota, the capital of Colombia, is an approximate three hour flight from Havana, and Colombia requires Cuban visitors to obtain visas. The United States has a deal with Cuba to issue 20,000 U.S. visas a year to Cubans seeking to emigrate, agreed after a 1994 rafter exodus to prevent them from taking to the sea illegally in makeshift craft. Washington issued more than 800 immigrant visas to Cubans per month from March to August last year, State Department data shows, but just 168 in September, 16 in October and 196 in November in the wake of the scaling back of its Havana embassy. The Trump administration said it had no choice but to reduce staffing, given it believed two dozen of its diplomats and family members in Havana had been sickened in a mysterious spate of attacks. A U.S. official told Reuters last week the government will not send staff back yet.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cuba-colombia/desperate-cubans-seek-u-s-visas-in-colombia-after-havana-embassy-cutbacks-idUSKBN1F815A?il=0